Former Macy’s site to house elves

One of Cincinnati’s most beloved traditions is set to return for another year of holiday magic: The Shillito’s Elves. 

Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) and altafiber have teamed up to bring the Elves back starting on Black Friday (Nov. 25).

After bouncing around the Queen City (and hibernating off and on) in recent years, the decades-old Elves have set up shop at The Foundry, located across the street from the heart of the city, Fountain Square.

It’s a homecoming, of sorts, for the Elves, who made their debut in the 1950s in the windows at Shillito’s, Cincinnati’s first department store. They’ll return to the site of another former department store when they go on display in The Foundry, 3CDC’s $51 million mixed-use development of the former Macy’s.

The Shillito’s Elves are a collection of mechanized figures that depict various Christmas scenes, including Santa’s workshop. They’ve been a classic Cincinnati holiday tradition going back 70 years.

The Elves’ location at the Foundry is ideal for families looking to make memories while experiencing other holiday traditions in Cincinnati’s urban core, like ice skating and taking pictures in front of the massive holiday tree at Fountain Square, or shopping for gifts at retailers in the Central Business District or Over-the-Rhine.

“The Shillito’s Elves are synonymous with the holidays in Queen City, and we’re thrilled to be bringing back this wonderful tradition so it can be enjoyed by a new generation of Cincinnatians,” Joe Rudemiller, 3CDC’s vice president of marketing and communications. 

Last year, altafiber teamed up with Findlay Market to bring the Shillito’s Elves out of a four-year hiatus to be put on display at the former Leader Furniture store, where they were welcomed by a new generation of onlookers. 

The collection has changed through the years, but six Elves are returning in 2022: The Mail Sorter, Little Woodshop, Pete the Painter, Lazzie Bear and Gift Wrap, and Elves at home, including Ralph the Piano Player and the four-stack of Bunkbed Elves.

The keeper of the Elves is local artist Mark Trierweiler. In addition to serving as Cincinnati keepsake custodian of the elves, he previously created the Santa’s Toy Factory installation that occupied Fountain Square in the ‘90s and designed floats for the downtown holiday parade. Trierweiler has meticulously stored the Elves for years and takes great pride in his ability to bring joy to the community through the holiday displays so many have come to love over the years.

Downtown residents and visitors can see the Elves on display in The Foundry’s windows along Fifth Street from Nov. 25 to Jan. 3, 2023. 

Though they can be seen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they will be animated at the following times:

  • Mon. – Fri.: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. & 4 – 9 p.m.
  • Sat. & Sun.: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

The Elves will supplement the extensive programming taking place less than a block away at Fountain Square, including daily ice skating and bumper cars. 

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